Sunday, December 11, 2011


Crikey media analyst Jeremy Sear is obsessed by someone anonymously posting items and updates on Wikipedia. Apparently this is a bad thing, although Jeremy himself has an extensive history of anonymous online activity.

There is a slight problem with Jeremy's post, however: Jeremy decided to illustrate his paranoid piece with three cartoons simply lifted from the website of a US artist. No attribution, no credit, no payment, no nothing.

Reader Nick calls him on it:
Um, speaking of references and attribution, shouldn’t you at have given attribution to the author of the cartoons you are using in this article? Looking at XKCD’s website, these images are not free for use by commercial organisations.
Jeremy testily replies:
Well, I linked straight to them on xkcd. I’ve now added a reference underneath describing what they are, although I suspect that it’s kind of redundant. If you have other suggestions on that off-topic subject, please send them via email.
Here’s a suggestion, although it shouldn’t be necessary for a lawyer who fancies himself to be an expert on intellectual property (with a special interest in copyright): how about not pinching the work of others in the first place? Or if that’s too much trouble, you could always read the artist’s website, which clearly states:
You are welcome to reprint occasional comics pretty much anywhere (presentations, papers, blogs with ads, etc). If you're not outright merchandizing, you're probably fine. Just be sure to attribute the comic to
Rather than do a little research Jeremy just takes what he wants and hopes for the best.

Strangely, Jeremy is not at all understanding when his work is borrowed:
Copyright in this image is owned by me. No-one is entitled to reproduce it without my express permission.

Although, of course, I didn't need to actually write those words. They go without saying. Because - as most people with even the most basic understanding of copyright are aware - copyright exists from the moment the work is created. It doesn't need to be registered. It doesn't need to be announced. It doesn't need a little "c" in a circle stuck on it. Simply, the copyright in the image automatically belongs to the person who created it, immediately. And it continues to do so for a fairly long time. Works don't enter the "public domain" until seventy years after the death of person who created the work or, if the work is published anonymously, seventy years after it is published.

Theft of such an image is, of course, covered by the Copyright Act 1968. Those who claim their theft is "fair use" might want to read sections 40-42 of the Act. Simply copying a photograph of someone's cat is extremely unlikely to qualify as "fair dealing for purpose of research or study" (s40), "fair dealing for purpose of criticism or review" (s41) or "fair dealing for purpose of reporting news" (s42).

Copyright is indeed a complex and evolving area of the law, but as it relates to photographs, it's well-established - certainly as to the question of whether people can just take others' photographs and reproduce them, particularly where the owner has notified that person, declared ownership in the photographs and requested that those photographs be removed. (The answer is, "no".)

If you happen to be stealing any works of mine, text or images, (and I know of at least one person who is), please stop it immediately.
Quite the little ranter is Jeremy.

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Blogger kae said...

For a long time Sear used Blackadder as an avatar. That didn't seem to bother him in the least.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Flying Tiger Comics said...

I am extremely impressed someone has "stolen" work from Sear. How the "thief" in question got their arms out of the straitjacket is presumably a mystery we will never solve.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous John said...

The only person known to have stolen any images belong to Sear is that bearded idiot Iain Hall.

Which, come to think of it, makes Flying Tiger Comics spot-on.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous foxy said...

by that criteria John you pompous twat, I imagine you've got a real Ned kelly bush.

2:05 AM  

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